Belarusian construction workers are denied registration of trade union organization


Following the decision of the Belarusian Independent trade union (BITU) and the Independent trade union of Miners at JSC Belaruskali (ITUM) to hold a protest action in Salihorsk (Belarus), on October, 30th the members of BITU employed by Unitary Construction Enterprise “Trust “Remmontazhstroy” made decision to hold a picket in Salihorsk. The reason for such activities of Salihorsk workers was repeated refusal to register their primary trade union organization.

- We resubmitted documents for registration of the primary organization to the Salihorsk District Executive Committee, and received another refusal, – explains the situation BITU Chair Mikalaj Zimin. - In the response we received, the district executive committee refers to our failure to fulfill certain points. We addressed the Chair of the district executive committee Paskrobka, and his deputy Strapko for clarification of our failure. The only response was “Go to court if you don’t agree. We are not obliged to explain more.”

The organization of the Independent trade union at “Remmontazhstroy” have been operating for 25 years as part of the Independent trade union of Miners at JSC Belaruskali. Many of its members have been members of the Independent Trade Union for decades:

- As a result of JSC Belaruskali restructuring its production, this unit was allocated to subsidiary status and Belaruskali is outsourcing its services. To participate in Collective Bargaining and to sign a Collective Agreement the workers of Remmontazhstroy had two organization meetings on creation of a primary union organization; and received rejections twice, – says the Chair of ITUM Siarhei Charkasau. – It is more than weird, especially having the example of the easiness with which the primary organization of Belkhimprofsoyuz passed through the same procedure. That is why we are so sure that these problems are made out just to prevent us from registration of our union.

On October, 24th the union leaders raised this issue at the meeting of the tripartite Council on improvement of legislation in social and labour sphere under the Ministry of Labour with the participation of Deputy. Minister I.Staravoytau, a representative of the Ministry of Justice and the Federation of Trade Unions of Belarus. The issue appeared in the minutes of the Tripartite Council meeting, and the related documentation is already sent to the Ministry.

In their turn, the workers of Remmontazhstroy began to collect signatures of union members for a collective appeal to the President of Belarus. On October, 30th, they decided to apply for a picket in Salihorsk demanding registration of their trade union primary organization.

- Our organization has history, certain reputation and a formed core. It started with 30 members; and now we are over 400, – says Siarhei Babrou, the leader of the union which is recognized by BITU. — It says a lot, people have voted to be in the union with their union contribution; it’s a civil position to join the independent trade union. It’s a civil act to be a member of the independent trade union. To experience discrimination, pressure from the employer, it is not very easy. However, if so many people took this road – then it is worth it. Our union is more flexible and less biased; it’s hard to put pressure on us. The employer knows about it, and we believe, this procedure with rejection to recognize the union influenced the situation.

Both BITU and ITUM at JSC Belaruskali made decisions to hold protest actions in the form of a march and a picket. All the three actions are announced for November to take place in Salihorsk. The Independent trade union asked the Association of trade unions the Belarusian Congress of Democratic trade unions (BKDP) for help, and the trade union center took a decision to support the construction workers from Salihorsk. The leadership of BKDP will apply to hold a picket at the Ministry of Justice of Belarus.

The global trade union movement will also be informed on the actions of Salihorsk authorities. The appeals are sent to The International Confederation of trade unions (ITUC), the IndustriALL Global Union and the International Union of Food workers which unite thousands of millions workers all over the Globe.